What happened and who impressed as Sunderland crash out the FA Cup at Gillingham
Sunderland crashed out the FA Cup after a dismal display at Gillingham – in which they failed to muster a shot on target.
Brandon Hanlan’s strike won the game for the Gills in extra time after neither side was able to force a shot on goal in normal time.
And the Black Cats were left to rue another dire performance in front of goal, meaning new boss Phil Parkinson has now won just two of his first ten games in charge.
Parkinson made five changes from the side that slumped to defeat at Scunthorpe United – some through circumstance, others through choice. With those changes in personnel came a change in shape, with the Black Cats reverting to a back five.
It looked effective early on, with the Gills kept firmly at an arms’ length with the visitors enjoying the better of the early chances. Laurens De Bock flashed a header wide from a fine Chris Maguire free-kick before a looped cross-shot from Max Power had to be clawed away by Jack Bonham.
Power also sent an effort from range comfortably over as the Black Cats applied some early pressure. They were guilty of taking the long route though – with Duncan Watmore and Will Grigg left chasing a succession of raking passes to no avail.
And that allowed Gillingham to grow into the game, with the lively Hanlan glancing a header wide from Mark Byrne’s teasing cross.
In truth, the game was devoid of any real quality in the early stages as some poor decision making stopped either side making a mark in an attacking sense; Luke O’Nien’s decision to shoot rather than play a simple cross from the byline a perfect example.
But while Parkinson would have been frustrated with a limp attacking showing in the first-half, Sunderland’s defensive performance was far more pleasing. Youngster Brandon Taylor, drafted in after a defensive injury crisis, looked assured in the first half in what was only his third senior appearance.
The second half continued in much of a similar vein, with the Black Cats seeing plenty of the ball while struggling to test Bonham.
Grigg came closest in a fairly uneventful second period as he drilled wide from 20 yards after some tricky feet from substitute Aiden McGeady.
It seemed only a moment of quality or a mistake would lead to a breakthrough – yet neither were forthcoming.
And so to extra-time it went, albeit thanks to some last-ditch defending from Ozturk and De Bock to keep out Hanlan and Mikael Ndjoli as the game ticked into normal time.
There was little to write hime about in extra time, however, as the extra half an hour followed a similar pattern to the ninety which proceeded it.
Hanlan came close with a header, before the home side were incensed after they felt Taylor had handled in the area. Referee Alan Young took a long look before waving away appeals, much to the dismay of Steve Evans.
And the Gills would come within inches of opening the scoring as the game ticked into its 100th minute – Max Ehmer turning on the edge of the area before seeing his thunderous shot come back off the crossbar with Lee Burge beaten.
Evans’ side were in the ascendancy, and made their superiority count as half-time in extra time approached – Hanlan receiving the ball on the right of the area before arrowing a shot past the dive of Burge.
From there it was a matter of seeing the game out, which the hosts did comfortably, sending Sunderland out the competition at the earliest stage.
Sunderland AFC XI: Burge; Taylor, Ozturk (Bainbridge 90), De Bock, Hume (McGeouch 105); O’Nien, Hume; Power, Leadbitter, Maguire; Watmore (McGeady 63), Grigg (Connelly 111)
Sunderland AFC subs: Patterson, Sammut, Mumba
Bookings: De Bock 54, O’Nien 84
Gillingham XI: Bonham; Fuller, Ehmer, Ogilvie, Tucker; Jones, Byrne, O’Keefe; Hanlan, Jakubiak (Ndjoli 58), Lee
Gillingham subs: Walsh, Hodson, Charles-Cook, Cisse, Pringle, Marshall
Goal: Hanlan: 105
Bookings: Ehmer 45
Attendance: 3,561 (329 away)